Bleach: the cheapest and most effective no rinse sanitiser for home brewing beer

Yes.  Bleach.

First, lets start with what sanitisation is, and why it’s important in home brewing.

Sanitisation vs Sterilisation (vs Cleaning)

Physical cleanliness, where all visible dirt has been removed

Sanitisation is the process of reducing the chances of contamination of your beer by unwanted micro organisms.  Cleaning is what you do first, maybe with soap and water and some elbow grease.  Any remnants of dirt, dust, grime, trub, krauzen, etc is removed so that your equipment is clean to the naked eye.  This is a very important step because sanitisation will be much less effective if you have dirty equipment.

But clean is not good enough for home brewing, because those potential contamination agents, such as bacteria, are far too small to be seen, which is where sanitisation comes in.

Sanitation, where, in addition to being clean, the equipment has been treated in such a manner as to remove most of the micro-organisms present on its surface.

Most.  That’s important to remember for later.  When you sanitise your equipment you reduce the chances of contamination to the absolute minimum possible for you, but it is not possible to be 100% effective 100% of the time.

To sanitise your equipment you are going to use, more than likely, a liquid of some kind, such as VWP Cleaner Steriliser, Brew Safe Cleaner Sanitiser or Star San HB.  You also might use iodine.

All of the options above are effective, and I’m not going to say they’re not.  But they are definitely all more expensive than my recommended alternative: bleach.  They also may or may not require rinsing of the equipment after sanitisation and before use, which is a bit of a pain, because you either have to use boiled water to do so, or risk contaminating your equipment.

Sterilisation, where, in addition to being sanitised, the equipment has been treated in such a manner as to destroy all micro-organisms present on the equipment.

Quite frankly, for most home brewers, sterilisation is beyond the realms of acheivability.  But it isn’t necessary anyway, if you clean and sanitise properly.

If you fail to sanitise your home brewing equipment properly, then you are much more likely to produce a beer that is rather disappointing and tastes like $#1+.  It’s fairly well documented that there is nothing that can grow or develop in beer that can actually kill you, but there certainly are things that can make you sick, and not just a little bit, but for the most part, you’re just going to end up with bad beer.  I firmly believe that this is the main reason new home brewers make one attempt, find the beer disappointing, and then cry off home brew forever, or why some people turn their nose up when you say you are a home brewer because their mate made a batch that was disgusting and they think all homebrew tastes like that.

The process

Essentially you are going to clean all of your equipment with a soft cloth, water, and maybe some unscented soap or cleaning agent.  It’s important to do this well, but be careful not to scratch surfaces (especially, for example, the inside of a plastic fermenter) because those little scratches can harbour all manner of bacteria and will be harder to clean and sanitise next time.

Then you will sanitise your equipment with your chosen  product according to their instructions.  Usually mixing the product with water, allowing specific minimum contact times, and then, often rinsing with water to remove the chemicals used to avoid them creating off flavours in your beer or just to avoid ingesting them.

Why bleach is the best no rinse sanitiser (in my opinion, anyway):

Firstly, a massive thanks has to go to James Spencer of  for the inspiration for trying bleach as a no-rinse sanitiser.  Basic Brewing has audio and video podcasts on iTunes and other podcast directories.  I learned the joys of using bleach as a no-rinse sanitiser in the March 29, 2007 – Sanitizing with Bleach and Star San episode.

Here goes:

Bleach has a bad rap amongst home brewers, and maybe that’s because they’ve either had a bad experience, heard of someone having a bad experience, or just don’t want to try because they’d rather trust a named product.

Spoiler Alert.  I’m going to be writing about mixing bleach water and vinegar.  Do not mix bleach and vinegar directly.  Put the bleach into the water, stir, then add the vinegar to the mixture.  Further details are below.

On the podcast James Spencer interviews Charlie Talley who started in the chemical business in the late sixties.  He runs Star San which started in 1971 but only as a brewing thing in 1991/2.  Charlie himself started his career as a chemist manufacturing bleach.

Charlie Talley says that chlorine is the “granddaddy of them” all as far as sanitisers are concerned- chlorine bleach is the benchmark against which all other sanitisers are measured, but it really only works when the pH is around 8 (and you achieve this by adding vinegar), but too much vinegar makes gas (or mixing vinegar with bleach directly) and in the most extreme worst-case-scenario that could knock you out.

Good bleach should have a clear yellowish-green colour.  If your bleach is cloudy, then it has gone, or is going bad. You want it to smell slightly of chlorine, if it doesn’t it’s gone bad, too.

A major advantage of bleach is that it is easy to get- it is readily available in supermarkets, and the cheaper the better for home brewing purposes- you want thin bleach- not thick toilet bleach with scents.  It’s also an idea to buy the smallest bottle available too so it doesn’t go bad.  You don’t need much anyway.  For me this is perfect because I don’t have a local homebrew store.

The numbers Charlie Talley gives in the podcast are:
Standard bleach is 50000 parts per million of the active ingredient.
1 oz of bleach  in 5 gallons of water = 80 parts per million of chlorine
80 ppm is all you need provided you match it with vinegar (equal measures).  This should be white vinegar preferably.
So the ratio is 5 gallons water: 1oz bleach:  1oz vinegar.  Never mix bleach and vinegar together before adding to the water because you will produce chlorine gas.  This is why people are afraid to use bleach- people get scared, but if you mix the bleach into the water, and then add the vinegar, this is perfectly safe.  Personally I think this is simpler than the brewing process itself.

If you clean properly and sanitise properly it will all be good.

And here’s the best bit:

Rinsing is not required at that level!  If you rinse you have to make sure your water is sterile.  Tap water has micro organisms in it.  So to avoid contaminating your sanitised equipment no rinse is best.  At this concentration, after sanitising and then draining you cannot smell or taste bleach.

And as for soaking it for a long time to sanitise- no way!  The necessary contact time is 30 seconds if the pH is right.
You don’t need longer than that, which makes brewday or bottling day much quicker.
So clean and sanitise just before you start brewing, clean after brewing.  Sanitise again before brewing the next time.

My method maintains the ratio but I use less of everything.  So for 1 gallon of water I use 1 teaspoon of bleach and 1 teaspoon of distilled vinegar.  I’ll use this to sanitise everything by wiping it with a cloth- fermentation vessels, lids, bottles for bottling, pressure barrels, hydrometers- it all gets cleaned and sanitised with bleach and then set to drain for a moment before use.

I’m not the most experienced brewer in the world, but I have brewed over 25 batches of beer, with at least 22 of them using this sanitisation method, and I have not experienced any infections or off flavours.  And I do not rinse- I just clean, sanitise, drain and use.

It is the perfect solution for me.  Others may prefer to use products like StarSan etc, and that’s ok, I’m just saying that bleach is a legitimate option.

Craft Beer

Introducing DraftPak – Sponsored Content

DraftPak on

I was contacted recently by the people at DraftPak and asked to share some exciting news.  I was not paid or compensated for posting this:

Finally… a New Technology to Easily Serve Keg Beer.

“Beer has been around for hundreds of years, and there hasn’t been much improvement in the technology we use to serve it. After years working in the bar and service industry, I spent two years in my garage creating and perfecting a solution to the complicated way keg beer has been served for decades. So now I’m proud to introduce the Draftpak! It does away with all of the hassle of tapping a keg,” says DraftPak inventor Colin Elwell.

The DraftPak is different from anything else on the market to serve beer. It taps directly onto the keg and is completely self-contained, making it perfect for bars, event spaces and caterers as well as individuals who want a portable way to cool beer from a keg without electricity and without waiting hours.

We launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to build DraftPaks on a larger scale and move production out of Colin’s garage. You can have confidence in this project because the DraftPak already works like it’s supposed to; it’s not a just concept. We want you to get the highest quality product possible that is hand made in the USA!




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Craft Beer Tasting

Atlantic White, Brains Craft Brewery, 6.0% Brains Atlantic White WitbierAtlantic White is a take on a traditional Witbier.

Witbier: A Belgian Style ale that’s usually very pale and cloudy in appearance due to it being unfiltered and the high level of wheat, and sometimes oats, that’s used in the mash. Witbiers are almost always spiced, generally with coriander, orange peel and other spices or herbs from time to time. They are often crisp and tart in part due to the fairly high level of carbonation. Sometimes served with a lemon, but better without. Often referred to as “white beers” (witbieren) due to the cloudiness / yeast in suspension.

This example of a witbier was less cloudy and hazy than I was expecting, and slightly less carbonated than I was expecting.  However, overall the taste was good and the flavours were not too exaggerated. Brains Atlantic White Witbier


Eat Your Beer! ReGrained Bars eat beer regained chocolate coffee stout barDan Kurzrock over at ReGrained contacted me a while ago, and kindly offered to send me a couple of samples of ReGrained’s wares.  So full disclosure- I didn’t pay for these bars (other than a contribution to shipping them from the states).

So let’s start with the idea behind ReGrained:

The guys at ReGrained realised that the brewing process is very inefficient in that there is this huge amount of spent grain left after the mash.  Home brewers often compost this material, and in some cases breweries have deals with farms where the grain is used as feed or fertiliser.  So ReGrained decided that they could repurpose these grains into something else themselves.

The Bars:

ReGrained use the highest quality ingredients.  They start with the grain used to make your favourite beers, and they add other great stuff like honey, almonds, oats, chocolate and coffee to make delicious, low gluten, high protein, high fibre snacks.

The Verdict:

I’m going to get this out of the way first:  if you expect the bars to taste like beer, you’ll be disappointed, so be prepared!  The fact is that they are simply delicious and very satisfying, but because no hops have been used in the brewing process by the time the grains have done their part, there are no hops in the bars, and therefore the flavour is all grain, no hops.

So if you’re still with me, you have to try these!  Think of an oaty, honey flapjack, but made with ingredients from your favourite beer.  They are that good.  I’ve had a bar as a breakfast substitute and it kept me satisfied until lunch.  I’ve had a bar as a lunch substitute, too, although not the same day.

Both flavours are tasty and inviting, and the Chocolate Coffee Stout bar is a perfect balance between sweet and bitter- just like a Stout should be.

You can find out much more about ReGrained from the accompanying info pack, or from their  (//" target="_blank">Amazon, too.

ReGrained Info Packet


Craft Beer Tasting

Sunshine, Brass Castle Brewery, 5.7% ABV

Beerliever brass castle sunshineIn 2011, the brewery was set up in a garage and produced four casks at a time. Within two months Brass Castle had won Champion Beer at the York CAMRA Beer Festival.  Within six months, brewing moved to Lord Halifax’s historic Garrowby Estate brewhouse and now Brass Castle is based in Malton town centre.

The brewery can produce up to 130 casks of beer a week.  In addition to a wide range of cask ales, some beers are bottled and others are put into kegs.  All the beer produced at Brass Castle is vegan and vegetarian friendly.

The town centre location means that the brewery is always open to visitors and a Tap Room is open twice a month serving freshly-brewed beers on site.  There is also a bottled beer and home-brew shop on site.

Sunshine is described as a hybrid of a traditional English IPA using Yorkshire malts and yeasts with bold new world hops.

One very cool thing to notice about the label, is that the Brass Castle script reads the same when turned upside down. brass castle

Find Brass Castle at  or on Twitter.

Craft Beer Tasting

Yakima IPA, Great Heck Brewing Company, 7.4% ABV

Yakima IPA, Great Heck Brewing, beerliever.comGreat Heck Brewery was established in 2008 in the heart of the Selby coalfield, and has gained a reputation as one of the best brewers of cask and bottled ales in Yorkshire- by no means an easy task given the brewing history of the region. They proudly produce both traditional and excitingly modern beers with love and care. Each recipe is crafted by beer lovers, for beer lovers.

Allegedly this brewery started as a side project that got a little out of hand, and I’m glad it did!  And the brewery won World’s Best Label at the 2014 World Beer Awards thanks to artwork by Richard Norgate.

Find Great heck at or on Twitter @GreatHeckBrew

Yakima IPA

Champion Strong beer CAMRA Huddersfield 2012; SIBA North silver medal 2012 in Premium Strong Beers category. Strong IPA with a blend of US hops – Citra, Simcoe, Cascade, Chinook and Amarillo. Strong West Coast USA influence, low bitterness, tons of fruity flavours and aromas balance a solid malt backbone. Dangerously drinkable.

The Verdict

Yakima IPA, Great Heck Brewing, beerliever.comWell.  This is 3 weeks in a row that I’ve featured an IPA, and for that I do apologise, however I do not apologise for giving some screen time to the Yakima IPA from Great Heck Brewing Company.  The others were Little Wild and Abdominal Stoneman in the recent weeks.

At 7.4% ABV this is a big beer for me, however I didn’t think that the alcohol was overpowering the flavour.  There’s a richness to the malt flavour which I particularly enjoy, and the hops were interesting, intriguing, delicious and delightful which was a relief as so many “hop bomb” IPAs nowadays are way over the top for my taste.  I can see why this beer has won awards, because it has done everything very well, and it has executed brilliantly.

One to enjoy- just not too many in a row at 7.4%!

Craft Beer Tasting

Abdominal Stoneman, Lymestone Brewery, 7.0% ABV

Abdominal Stoneman Lymestone Brewery beerliever.comFor almost a thousand years, the town of Stone in Staffordshire has been a brewing town. Stone’s first recorded brewers were Augustinian Monks who brewed ales blessed with the sign of the cross.

Lymestone is a small independent or “Micro brewery” situated a small distance from Stone town centre in what was described to the owners as “a brick built industrial unit”. Actually it turned out to be a former brewery, and quite a large one at that. First built in 1889 by Montgomery and Company, a large brewery was built on the edge of the town within easy reach of the canal, and later the railway. The brewery changed hands in 1902 when, due to a failed court case over the use of the name Stone Ale; Newcastle under Lyme brewers, Roland and Edward Bent, bought the brewery lock stock and barrel! The acquisition of the Brewery included an estate of 23 tied houses. The Brewery was altered and enlarged throughout the early 20th century. Production at the Stone site ran round the clock during the Second World War when Bent’s sister site in Liverpool was heavily damaged by enemy bombing. By the time Bents Brewery Co Ltd was closed by Bass Charrington in the 1970’s, Bents operated 514 pubs.

Some time after the closure of the Brewery bottling continued on site, however it was not long before the brewing industry drew to a final close and any beer related business was relegated to the history books. Well, that’s the history according to various sources so it must be more or less right!

History of Lymestone Brewery

Brad has been in the brewing industry since 1990 when he joined Titanic Brewery as a driver⁄general brew house worker. After 18 years spent with Titanic getting involved with all aspects of the Brewing industry, Brad decided that it was time to go alone, and in 2008 he resigned from his post as Brewer and began the process of setting up Lymestone Brewery. Brad immediately saw the advantages of having the brewery based in Stone. As well as the historic values of a brewing town with a supportive population; there is a building (though for many years neglected) that had been designed for that very purpose. The floors in the “brick built unit” are sloped and all run to drains originally installed when the brewery was first built. The main room is a huge production area of some 15 metres which we now believe would have been the old fermenting rooms with the upper floors removed to incorporate the cellars below. This huge area houses the Lymestone brewing room and also has space for dry storage.

Also on the site is the old well which is available to the brewery should they choose to use it.

Lymestone currently has a 10 barrel brew plant capable of producing approx 40 firkins (casks containing 72 pints) per brew. It has fermentation capacity for 60 barrels meaning that Brad can if he wishes brew 6 times per week. The brewery produces a range of permanent cask ales as well as seasonal brews which can be found in and around Stone, Staffordshire and up to 50 miles from the Brewery. Lymestone beers can be found all across the UK, however they are delivered via wholesalers as the van just cannot make it that far!

Information taken from their website: 

Twitter: @lymestonebrewer

Facebook: Lymestone Brewery

The Beer:

This is a huge beer by anyones standards!

Abdominal Stoneman 7% is not the faint hearted!

Three powerful US hops dominate this monster of an American Pale Ale. From its crisp Maris Otter base to its massive hoppy finish this is a beer that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Abdominal Stoneman Lymestone Brewery beerliever.comAfter reading that I was a mixture of “kid in a candy store” excited and at the same time slightly dubious… I don’t usually go for “big” beers in terms of alcohol the majority of the time, and although I don’t think that 7% is huge, certainly not by American standards, it is still not an everyday level I would go for, and my homebrews usually clock in at around 4%.  Add to that the words “dominate” and “monster” and “massive hoppy finish” and I thought that this was going to go one of two ways- utterly undrinkable, or abso-fucking-lutely smashing.

As it turned out, I thought it was neither.  Well, that might be a bit harsh.  It was certainly a lot closer to the abso-fucking-lutely smashing end of the scale, but not for the reasons that I was expecting.

Easy on the eye, the beer is a bright red-tinted ale with absolutely perfect clarity and a big, bubbly head of quite large bubbles, not a tight, creamy head such as you might find on other styles of beer.

Aromas of citrus and pine, but also sweet caramel, giving a less powerful hit than I was expecting from the build up, but an enjoyable, well-balanced aroma.

Mouthfeel is fairly thick and satisfying, this isn’t a thin, watery drink- this is man-stuff (no offence, ladies!).

Taste- now this is where I need to be clear- I enjoyed this beer immensely. However, I didn’t think that it lived up to the expectations that had been set.  It did not have me on the edge of my seat- instead I was slumped back in my seat enjoying every satisfying mouthful.  The “massive hop finish” was a bit of a let down- not in flavour, just in size, and that may well be a good thing, for me at least.  A “monster” it was not, but a damn fine beer it was.

Abdominal Stoneman Lymestone Brewery beerliever.comThe balance of hops and malt was, quite frankly, made this one of the most enjoyable beers I’ve reviewed on .  The hops had all the great stuff we want and in perfect balance- some pine, some citrussy grapefruit, even a hint of grass-cuttings on a summer breeze.  Wonderful.  Malty character of caramel bringing a deep richness to the beer.

Overall, I much preferred the Abdominal Stoneman to the Little Wild from last week, and it was streets ahead of the Gladeye IPA from a while back.

Craft Beer Tasting

Little Wild, The Little Beer Corporation, 6% ABV

Little Wild, Little Beer Corporation, beerliever.comFrom a Guildford-based micro-brewery comes the Little Wild IPA.  Their slogan is Live a big life, drink a little beer and they seem to be truly passionate.

Their is packed full of information about them, and I hope you’ll check it out because I can’t do them justice in my own words, so I’ll let them speak for themselves.  Find them on Twitter too.

Let your wild beast get the better of you

A lively red IPA made with Pale, Munich and Carapils Malts plus a generous helping of Chinook, Sorachi Ace, Columbus, Cascade & Amarillo hops

This beer dances around your tongue but then packs in a good punch. A beer with a robust bitterness that is broad and bracing, but held together firmly by a solid backbone of malt. Red in colour, with bright grapefruit citrus aromatics that leap out of the glass. Endlessly appetising. Fragrant, bright, zingy, citrusy, robust and strong.

My verdict:

Little Wild, Little Beer Corporation, beerliever.comVery good indeed.  It was incredibly fizzy on the pour, which was only a minor inconvenience.  I wouldn’t describe it as “red” but a rich golden colour it certainly was.  Aromas of citrus fruits for sure, but not a “new style” IPA that will knock you off your bar stool with hop bitterness.  Very balanced with the deep, caramel malt flavour, making this a great summer beer to enjoy outside, but equally drinkable on a cold night, too.

If you like small-batch, carefully made beers, this is for you.  And if you want some inspiration on another IPA from the beerliever archives try Gladeye IPA.

Craft Beer Tasting

Over the Hill Dark Mild, Hillside Brewery 3.5% ABV

Over the Hill Dark MildBy way of minor preamble, I’ve had one hell of a week.  By the time I finally got around to drinking this Over the Hill Dark Mild from Hillside Brewery I was absolutely gagging for the simple pleasure of a refreshing, easy-drinking yet flavourful beer.  Weighing in at just 3.5% ABV, I was pretty sure that this Dark Mild was going to hit the spot, and I wasn’t disappointed!
By all means check them out online at their and connect with them on Twitter.  I had an exchange in Twitter with someone from Hillside Brewery on Thursday evening and again on Friday morning, and they were very friendly indeed.
As the name suggests, this is a mild.  A style that has a reputation for being an old man’s drink.  It’s certainly not a common style to find many places anymore, but there are people out there doing their best to keep the style alive against a tide of IPAs and Pumpkin Peach Wheat beers (don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that we are getting more and more variety, and the mild may not have the sex appeal of a 29% ABV  6000 IBU powerhouse, but damn, it hits the spot!).
My thoughts:
So this is a dark mild, and the best way I can describe it is to say that it was a lot like a porter’s little brother.  The rich, deep brown colour with the beige head that didn’t stick around too long, but long enough for me not to be disappointed, the aroma reminiscent of coffee with the slightest hint of smoke, the easy-going flavour profile that would be a great entry-level beer for the novice beer drinker or cooking lager drinker.  Much less challenging than facing a pint of Guinness (yes, totally different style, but the comparison is valid) as a step in the right direction to a more varied palate for beer appreciation.
Over the Hill Dark MildI must admit that I did not really stop to savour the flavours and aromas of the Over the Hill Dark Mild.  Maybe I should have sunk a pint of my home-brew to quench my thirst first, but it went down too easily and was gone in just a few minutes.  All too soon, in fact, and just like a great story I was left wanting more…
Craft Beer Tasting

Oberon Session IPA, Wharfe Bank Brewery, 4.2% ABV

Oberon Session IPA Wharfe BankIt looks like this might have been one of the last bottles of a beer that is no longer in production!  Shame, because it was very tasty and a nice ABV.  I believe that Wharfe Bank are continuing to produce an IPA but at a higher alcohol content.  Find Wharfe Bank Brewery online () or follow them on Twitter.


This Oberon Session IPA is a very pleasant IPA- I might describe it as a gateway IPA, to ease non IPA drinkers into the style.  Light on the alcohol, but not lacking in flavour in the slightest.  A rich golden colour with good, white head and decent head retention.  Not overwhelming on the nose, nicely balanced malt, biscuity in a way, with mellow hops aroma.  Oberon Session IPA Wharfe BankVery drinkable, not overwhelmingly hoppy, a decent citrus zing to it that is very refreshing.  A cracking summer beer!

Have you had the Oberon Session IPA or any other Wharfe Bank beers?

UPDATE:  I’m reliably informed by the very friendly Wharfe Bank twitterer that the Oberon Session IPA has been replaced (or maybe renamed?) by a beer called Ro Sham Bo, also at 4.2% ABV, so you can still get it, just in different packaging!


Craft Beer Tasting

Red Kite Ale, Black Isle Brewing Company, 4.2% ABV red kite ale black isle breweryA fine looking ale this is.  Another Scottish brewery featuring on

Black Isle claim to be the UK’s premier organic brewery making world class beers from the finest organic malt and hops grown on farms without chemicals, as nature intended.

Based near Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland, it is our beautiful, unspoilt, unpolluted, wild, and not a little bit wet highland home – and we love it! We have our own organic farm where we grow malting barley for brewing. We even have our own brewery house cow, called Molly, who eats the malt from the brewery mash tun and gives us 20 pints of fresh creamy milk every day.


We live, work and brew delicious organic beer at Allangrange, translated from the Gaelic as “a fertile field of corn.” We see ourselves and what we do, as a natural link between our traditional cultural heritage and the contemporary craft beer world.

Please see their website for more or follow them on Twitter.

They describe the Red Kite Ale as follows:

As the name suggests, this amber ale lifts the spirits by infusing classic British hops with a malty backbone to create this medium bodied thirst quencher. It’s the perfect year-round beer – refreshing in summer and satisfying in winter.
A corker with a winter vegetable soup and equally at home when sharing your mouth with a Glenmorangie 18-year-old malt.

My thoughts: red kite ale black isle breweryWell, it’s nice. It’s very nice, in fact, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything special.  In fact, on the bottle they talk about blackcurrants and things, quite frankly I didn’t get any of that.  What I got was an enjoyable, red ale.  A bit biscuity, a good bitterness (in fact, if you asked me to pick a style, I would have said English Bitter).

Other than that it was a great colour and the head was creamy and long lasting, which I like.

I would happily drink it again and again (and again), but don’t take my word for it- try it yourself!